PNG DEFENCE FORCE REMAINS POLITICALLY NEUTRAL

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Plans to monitor Somare, O’Neill political squabble

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Dec. 19, 2011) - The Papua New Guinea Defence Force (PNGDF) remains neutral but it is monitoring the political squabble for power between Sir Michael Somare and Peter O’Neill which has run into its second week.

High ranking Defence Force officers informed Post-Courier that the PNGDF did not support either Mr O’Neill or Sir Michael but the army was concerned about what is happening and is monitoring the situation closely.

Concerned officers of the army informed Post-Courier that the army callout instruction was issued by one of the two groups but the army remained firm that a callout was only warranted when the political situation deteriorated, leading to violence.

"The army belongs to the people of Papua New Guinea. Why should it be used by politicians to serve their own ends," a senior officer said, adding that the command in the PNGDF was monitoring the situation.

While Murray Baracks was pondering what it should do, the decision by the Somare cabinet to allocate 30 million kina [US$13.7 million] to fund a call-out of PNG Defence Force soldiers, and fund police operations and the deployment of CIS officers was revoked yesterday.

Parliament–elected Prime Minister Peter O’Neill said all the decisions made in the last few days by the deposed minority regime of Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare were illegal decisions and were revoked.

Mr O’Neill said from the K30m allocated by the Somare faction to fund the security operations, PNGDF callout was allocated 10 million kina [US$4.6 million], police K10 million, CIS K5 million and payment for lawyers K5m.

"We have revoked the illegal decision by the deposed Somare government.

"Sir Michael Somare and his deposed government had no authority to hold illegal cabinet meetings and make illegal cabinet decisions.

"The decision instructing all heads of departments, State Enterprises, Provincial Administrators and all public servants to respond to their directions is illegal," Mr O’Neill said.

"We have revoked the illegal and desperate decision by the fallen regime to call out the PNGDF to help police address law and order problems in Port Moresby and to provide security and protection of key government institutions and residents of VIPs for a period of three months starting from December 15.

"This is an illegal decision by a deposed government that no longer has legal standing after December 12," Mr O’Neill said.

Mr O’Neill said similarly, his Government revoked the illegal direction of the deposed Somare-Government giving drafting instructions to the First Legislative Counsel to legitimize their illegal decisions.

He said the deposed Somare-Government had been trying to legitimize their existence by alluding to the Supreme Court ruling on matters and events specifically referred to as having occurred between August 2 and September 6, 2011. "Parliament has moved on beyond September 6 and has made retrospective legislative decisions that only Parliament can make to correct itself, legitimize its actions and certify its decisions,’’ he said. As such, he said he was the legitimate PM.

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